US Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may have inadvertently dragged Argentina into US-China tensions this morning, forcing the Macri administration to play damage control.
Following a bilateral meeting between President Mauricio Macri and US counterpart Donald Trump at the Casa Rosada Saturday morning, Sanders indicated that the two had discussed, among other things, China’s “predatory economic activity.”
Argentine officials, conscious of the proverbial tightrope they walk in engaging with two of the nation’s largest trade partners, quickly denied that such language had been used during the meeting. When asked about Sanders’ comments at a press briefing, Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, responded “I didn’t think that there had been a reference in those terms.”
As Trump threatens to levy new tariffs on Chinese imports to the US, China continues to center its focus on Latin America. It is now one of Argentina’s greatest financiers, having provided US $18.2 billion in project investment over the last decade.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is attending the G20 on an official presidential visit (hence the pomp and circumstance at his arrival) now prepares to sign a series of new deals with the Macri administration. These include a multibillion dollar deal to construct Atucha III, Argentina’s fourth nuclear power plant, and an expansion of China’s credit line to Argentina to US $19 billion. The latter will make China Argentina’s largest non-institutional lender.
Macri and Xi are set to meet on Sunday.